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Staying Fit While Traveling: 7 Simple Tips

If you travel for business you’ve experienced the frustration of returning home a couple of kilos heavier and back to square one on your training. Staying fit while traveling on extended trips away from home can be a real challenge. In today’s post, we’ll look at seven tips to make it easier to come back just as fit as you were when you left.

1. Find a Gym

man staying fit while traveling at a local gym

OK, maybe a little obvious but how many of us take the time to do it? Usually, if we’re on a business trip we do have evenings and weekends off, just like we do at home. Pretty much every city has a gym or three and you have a number of options for getting in your at-home workout while on the road. Almost all gyms provide a per-workout fee. If you’ll be away for less than a week, even if the fee comes to what a monthly membership would be at home, you’re still better off paying it and getting your workout in. If you’ll be away longer than that many gyms have weekly or monthly temporary memberships for people who are traveling. Provided you actually hit the gym a few times a week, the cost will be less per workout than the per-workout fee. Once you hit town make it a priority to call the gyms close to where you’ll be staying and find one that fits the bill. Besides, what else are you going to do while in town?

Unless business has taken you to the outback, chances are there’s a gym nearby. Most gyms offer per-workout or weekly memberships for businesspeople traveling.

2. Body Weight Workout

Unless you’re very hearty, if you’ve traveled to a cold climate in winter this may not be practical, but assuming it’s not below zero out, you can find a playground and get in a body weight workout. No need to go into detail here as we’ve already posted a full article on how to get an effective workout with just body weight.

3. Run or Rent a Bike

If you’re a runner by habit you likely don’t need this advice. If you’re not, though, combining the cardio of a daily run with either of the first two tips could actually see you coming back home in better shape than when you left. All you’ll need is running clothes and a good pair of shoes.

And if you’re not a runner, many bike rental shops will rent bikes on a weekly or multi-day rate. Go pick a bike up on day one, park it in your hotel room where you have to walk around it every time you come and go. It will remind you to get out there and cycle at least a few times while you’re away. You can even combine exercise with sightseeing. Most cities have bike paths and this can be a great way to get out and see the touristy stuff during your spare time.

Also, consider taking up mountain biking if there is appropriate terrain nearby. This is a great outdoor workout that refreshes the soul as much as it strengthens the body.

man staying fit while traveling by mountain biking

You don’t need to be in the mountains to enjoy mountain biking. Anywhere that has bike trails in the wilderness can provide a fitness experience that’s as much for your mental health as it is for your body. Get outside!

4. Try Something New

woman staying fit while traveling by trying crossfit

Never done CrossFit, or wall climbing? How about kayaking or surfing? The free time you likely have evenings and weekends is an opportunity to stay fit and try new things. Most major cities have climbing walls and even small ones will have a CrossFit gym or two. Also, many CrossFit gyms are independent and the owner or manager will likely be happy to negotiate an affordable temporary membership for the time you’ll be in town. There are few more strenuous workouts than CrossFit and you might come home with a new passion!

CrossFit gyms can be found everywhere too! Many are individually owned. Most will give one free workout. After that, talk to the manager about a weekly membership

If you’re an outdoors person, there are a number of outdoor sports you can try to stay fit while traveling including the aforementioned kayaking and surfing. There’s also cross-country skiing and snowboarding if you’re in a winter climate. Some cities may even have free-running or Parkour gyms where you can find your inner James Bond.

5. Pack Protein Formula

casein and whey protein powders

There’s no doubt that getting proper nutrition while on the road is a real challenge. Meals in restaurants and diners, combined with the fast-food that is sometimes all your schedule allows for can add up to poor nutrition. This has a very negative impact on your body. Even if you’re exercising, if you’re eating a poor diet, your conditioning will suffer while you’re away. The worst of it is not the little bit of fat you might put on either. It’s the loss of muscle mass. This can be entirely or mostly avoided with proper use of protein formulas. We’ve written an entire post on using protein formula properly to build and preserve muscle mass. Take your protein on the road exactly as you do at home. This will go a long way toward preserving the muscle mass, so even if you do lose some conditioning while you’re away it will be much easier to get back into shape when you return.

Keeping up your protein intake is an integral step in staying fit while traveling. Losing muscle mass is a metabolic disaster! Don’t let it happen to you.

And if you can fit it in your luggage, buy at least the casein formula before you leave. Chances are you won’t be motivated to find the nearest supplements store. No need to pack whey protein, though. You’ll find it in most grocery stores.

6. Remember the Basics

Whatever you choose to do while on the road to keep fit, preserving muscle mass should be your highest priority. Losing muscle mass is a metabolic disaster. It not only makes you weaker and less resilient to both injury and disease but lowers your Basal Metabolic Rate. This means you burn fewer calories just sitting around. If the job you’re traveling for isn’t active you’ll likely be doing a lot of that. A lower BMR means that you’ll gain fat more easily. This fact, combined with the less-than-ideal diet you’ll likely be eating, can mean a lot more of you will be coming home than what left.

fat person who eats a small breakfast and large dinner with a fit person who eats a large breakfast and small dinner.

Keep sugars and refined grains to a bare minimum, as these are the worst foods for putting on fat. Make sure you get lots of protein. Eat breakfast! Then eat progressively smaller meals throughout the day. The worst thing you can do is go out for drinks and a big dinner at the end of the workday before hitting the sack. Your body will store every excess calorie as fat.

If you’ll be doing any resistance training while you’re away (and you should!) be sure to read Physiology 101: How Our Body Builds Muscle and Physiology 101: Fast Muscle Growth. Without getting maximum pump you’re drastically reducing the effectiveness of your muscle-building workout.

We know it’s hard to eat healthy while you’re on the road, but remember the basics. Eat breakfast. Avoid sugars and refined grains. Don’t drink your calories!

7. On Vacation?

Traveling for pleasure creates an extra challenge. We’re there to relax and have fun but we also don’t want to waste all of our hard work and come home looking like we ate the buffet. Here’s a practical article on tips for staying fit on vacation while still having fun.

Staying Fit While Traveling Isn’t Easy – But It’s Worth It!

There’s no question that staying fit while traveling for work is a real challenge, especially if you’ll be going to more than one location. If you follow the tips above, though, and combine them with just enough self-discipline to stay active, you’ll thank yourself when you get home and you’re not facing weeks of training to get back in shape.

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Will Dove

Will is a lifelong fitness nut. He started exercising religiously at the age of 16. Now 52, he still works out 5 times per week and maintains a body fat percentage in the single digits. Will is passionate about helping others to achieve their fitness and body image goals, and believes that most people fail to achieve these goals, not through a lack of self-discipline, but through a simple lack of knowledge.